When Grandma Doesn’t Know Best

August 20, 2012  

Changing misperceptions often happens one person at a time

By Kirstyn Northrop Cobb

We all know that there are misconceptions about pit bulls out there, and as people who love them we know that it is our job to change minds. But what if the critics are your own family members?

My grandmother is terrified of dogs. Not just dogs, all animals. Dogs, cats, bunnies, mice, you name it. I’ve seen her not go out into her yard because there was a squirrel in it. She was never pleased with the fact that I have dogs, and it just got worse when I rescued my first pit bull dog.

He was just a baby when I brought him home. A little guy who needed rescuing, and how could I turn him down? She knew that I brought a new puppy home. I wasn’t going to tell her that it was a pit bull. She didn’t know what one was anyway, all she knew is what she heard on the news. But someone told her. I still don’t know who, but one day, she confronted me. “Is that dog really a pit bull?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. And then she sat down and cried. Yep, cried. “But you have a daughter. How could you do that to her? What are you going to do when that dog rips her face off?” Those were her exact words. I said, “We’ll be fine”.

She didn’t let it go. She called and called and begged me to reconsider. She asked my husband how could he let me do this? (I would like to point out something here: “Let me do this”? Really? Anyone who knows me knows that there is no “let me do this.” I’m going to do what I’m going to do and that’s that.) She called my mom. Maybe my mom could convince me to change my mind. Maybe my mom would have my daughter stay with her, and then she would be safe. My poor 85-year-old grandmother was up at night worrying and was losing sleep.

Eventually, as time wore on, she must have realized that the dog was staying. The calls were less frequent and eventually stopped. After my little pit bull, Gus, lived with us for about four years, I figured that it was safe to bring it up again. So one day, I said to her, “You know, we’ve had this dog for about four years now and nothing bad has happened.” She replied, “Well, maybe your dog is OK.” And I responded with, “Well, then by default, they’re not all bad, huh?”

She conceded.

And that’s what it’s all about. Changing minds one at a time. And if we can change my grandmother’s stubborn mind, then one by one, we can repair a damaged reputation.

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21 Responses to “When Grandma Doesn’t Know Best”
  1. barbaraleeanderson07090 says:

    Congratulations, Kirstyn…….amazing, isn’t it, how it only takes ONE precious pittie to change a person’s perception of pitbulls?  All pittie parents have to be vocal and continue showing off our loving pitties to the public.  Every person whose mind is changed has the potential to then “pay it forward” by speaking positively about the pittie they know when they hear negative rumors.  (btw, I’m also a “do what I’m going to do” kind of woman, so I applaud your resolve!!)

  2. You sound like me “there’s no letting me do anything, I’m going to do what I want” is me all the way.  It wasn’t my grandmother that was concerned however, it was my mom.  She was very upset when I sent her pictures of Sasha.  Like you I didn’t tell my family that I was adopting a dog let alone a pit bull.  The conversation with your grandmother was similar to the conversation my mom & I had.  She asked how could I endanger her grandchildren? My response was why would I endanger MY children let alone me? That was the end of that conversation.  My said he kept looking at Sasha’s picture and kept saying “she’s so cute, no she’s a pit bull.” Finally they met at mom’s house and it was clear who won that battle/war SASHA! Now I can’t visit my mom if I don’t have Sasha & Krush with me.  Not only did we change her mind but we changed her perception.  My sister on the other hand took longer to adjust however, in the end it was Krush who changed her mind and perception.  Now we’re in the process of helping my sister find her “Brutus!” You can’t help but fall in love with these babies, they’re called bullies for a reason.  They bully their way in your house, heart, bed, couch, driver/passenger seats…heck wherever you are they are!

    • CatKit says:

      theprettychic  Now I hate to admit that at one time I thought Dogs were ok ..but I thought they annoying and barking, chewing machines I didn’t dislike I just wouldn’t own a Dog. So when husband came home one day with puppy in tow, He knew I did not Want a dog to much mess…I am so hating to admit this right…. Here’s my first Dog I don’t know what to do with him so I had to educate myself real quick. I never dreamed that i could get past the hair the licking of the face and what not lol as I m typing this…  My Moses is the best thing that ever come walking in on all fours …my life is better…And by the way he is a Pit Bull 🙂  and He hogs the bed and likes my face…I cant imagine life without him he is truly my best friend and along the way I have made it my mission to change any ones mind about this Breed…..and Moses, well he Makes it easy for me….Every One Who Meets Moses my pit bull mind you, Loves him.     Sometimes I tell Moses as he licking my face  and getting his belly rub..I cant believe you got me not only to do this… lol …BUT,, I wouldn’t have it any other way this dog loves me and I love him …did it,, and loving it…….Its definitely the breed, He changed me..God blessed us with this breed there the nanny dogs there not going to hurt you they just want to please and love and play no matter what.  so keep up the good work THERE are so many minds to change still! 

    • theprettychic I love that…”they bully their way into your house, your heart, bed, couch, car….whereever you are.”

  3. highdesertmom says:

    Had the same experience with my mother only the dog in question was a Rottie not a Pit. Mom was worried that the dog would harm my new granddaughter. “Are they going to keep THAT dog after the baby is born?” Yes, they kept THAT dog and she was an angel with fur and four feet.

  4. MariaIsabelGarcia says:

    Textbook grandma guilt trip! My grandma uses this tactic often, and makes you feel like the biggest piece of crap on the planet! Gotta love them though, they just want what they think is best for us.

  5. Jadesmom says:

    Great story!  My 87-year old grandmother and my mother live together, you know … take care of each other.  When I got accepted to graduate school my mom & grandmother “babysat” my rescued male pittie bull.  Now that I’ve graduated they don’t want to give him back!  He’s a big boy, loves every man, woman and child that comes to visit.  The visitors RAVE over him – how loving, gentle and kind he is.  Two visitors from my grandma’s home town of London, England wanted to sneak him in their suitcase.  My tiny, British grandmother with her soft-spoken Brit accent tells it like it is about pittie bulls – she advocates for them!  I’ve wanted to write a blog about these two old ladies and the pibble they don’t want to relinquish back to me because they love him so much.  Two little old ladies sharing their life and changing attitudes about pit bulls.  

    • StubbyDog says:

      Jadesmom How wonderful! You can write it up for us and we would love to post in on our site with photos of your boy and grandmas! if you are interested, email ingridf@stubbydog.org. It shows how one amazing dog can truly change minds, even across the pond!

  6. DianaLarson says:

    I had the same situation. My daughter rescued a staffordshire terrier as a puppy. Cutest puppy I ever saw, fell in love instantly. Didn’t know she was considered a “pit bull”. When I found out, I have to admit, I was a little nervous about it, but I loved her anyway. When my daughter went off to college about a year later, Che’ came to live with me, supposedly only until my daughter graduated college. When she was all done and had a home of her own, I couldn’t give Che’ back to her. She was totally my dog and I love her to death. She is 8 years old now, best dog I ever had, smart, great with kids etc. I have since rescued another pit bull and fostered about 4 or 5 now. I am a firm advocate for the breed. Every day it seems I am signing another petition or poll or something against BSL. I live in Arizona, so we don’t have BSL, specifically, but there is still a stigma there and it’s tough to fight it.

    • StubbyDog says:

      DianaLarson Diana, we would love to share your story. It’s so great how not only your perceptions where changed with Che but it made you an advocate, adopting, fostering, getting the word out. Just the kind of story that makes our site so great to so many people. If you are interested, please email ingridf@stubbydog.org. with your stories and lots of photos. Thanks for sharing. 

  7. CoryLaRaeWilhelm says:

    I own a pit and shepherd mix. My son (i call him my son but he is the dog im speaking about) is sweet and never hurt anyone. He does protect me though. I have never discriminated against any dog but the first pit i met was when i was 1515 i was walking home from school and i kept seeing a shadow behind me and then there was nothing there, i finally turned around and a little brindle puppy and his friend, a small weiner dog were sitting at my feet looking up and wagging at me. They had no collars, were obviously strays amd i remember thinking what a cute and odd combination for friends. I took them both home, my dad had a fit that i brought two home seeing as how i already had one huge dog who was rott/lab mix and the love of my life, but he let me keep them and feed them and i found them good homes. How anyone can judge a little puppy or a helpless animal is beyond me. My friends own a 130lb pit amd he is all snuggles and clumsiness. He is big but is sweet and calm. I was at a local fair with him and i was holding onto him and someone walked up and told me that i ahould be ashamed of myself for bringing a pitbull around kids. I smiled and kindly said well, this dog has more love in his heart than most humans, im suprised they let you around kids or other people at all. And they shut right up. When i first got my pit and shepherd mix i posted pics of him playing with a much larger pit bull puppy, the one mentioned above and everyone asked me if i was crazy and that the other puppy would hurt mine and it just baffled me because they are the best of friends and the big pit has been nothing but gentle with my dog and even courteous and careful with him. He even knows when his aunty is sad or in pain (i jave lymes disease ) and he wont jump up when he knows im in pain he will put his big ol pumpkin head in my lap amd give me loves. I have never seen any dog that was mean by default. Humans make them mean and even then they can be rehabilitated, i have done so myself with many “dangerous breeds” i love all the dogs ive ever met and i dream of opening up a rehabilitation center for large discriminated dogs.

  8. willowwonderbull1 says:

    We had many people in the family and many co-workers voice concerns when I told them I had adopted Willow WonderBull.  They were afraid she would attack our little dogs or even me.  As she grew and as her personality blossomed they learned to love her…..even Grandma and Papa.  She has a lot of energy still so if I know she is going to be around little ones or seniors I make sure we go for a nice long walk first to burn off some of that extra energy so her fun and loving personality will shine through. 

    • StubbyDog says:

      willowwonderbull1 We can’t imagine anyone being afraid of a tutu wearing cutie like Willow!

  9. Gus is sooooo handsome! Good for you for advocating! And Thank you “Grandma” for seeing the true light of this handsome guy.Pit bulls don’t “turn on people”. Sadly people DO turn on pit bulls.

  10. “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make
    our lives whole”. – Roger Caras

  11. StephanieSorensen says:

    A gorgeous dog with a gorgeous smile! Made my day a little brighter.

  12. heidischick says:

    My grandma didn’t like that my husband and I adopted pit bulls, either. She was nervous when we first brought Stella home, and then when we adopted Padawan a year later, she was really nervous. Her words: “Two pit bulls? What are you going to do when you have children?” She wouldn’t come to our house for awhile. But last year my family spent a week at a lake house in northern Michigan, and we brought the dogs. She didn’t like it at first, but after spending a week with our pups, she finally admitted, “You know, you really do have good dogs.” She even brags about them to people sometimes. Just goes to show time and exposure can melt away those prejudices. Thanks for your story!

  13. PersephoneBetsuni says:

    My Japanese grandma is awesome and didn’t think anything of the fact that my baby son is a pit bull. Her opinion was “dogs are dogs”. I love that lady.

  14. avegas72 says:

    My new sister in laws grandmother was surprised my girl Kyah was a pitbull. I always bring Kyah to my mom’s house when we have a gathering, so last Thanksgiving, I brought her and she was surprised by Kyah’s behavior. She had obviously “read/heard” about “vicious pitbulls” and Kyah was the complete opposite of her idea of a pitbull. Kyah wants everyone to pet her, and of course her grandmother was holding off. So when we were seated at the dinner table, Kyah walked up to her wagging her tail, and nudged her hand as if to say “pet me”. I told her “she wants you to pet her”, and so she did!  I hope Kyah changed her mind a little too….One person at a time. 😉